Feds Step in to Investigate Cargo Blaze after Firefighter Deaths

(IntegrityPress.org) – Six months after a tragic cargo ship fire at Port Newark in NJ resulted in the death of two firefighters, federal investigators are commencing a series of public hearings to unravel the events of what happened on July 5, the day of the fire.

The hearings, jointly conducted by the US Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board, are scheduled to commence on Wednesday, January 17. Alessandro Moretti, the ship’s captain, and representatives from the Grimaldi Group, the operating company, will be interrogated during these proceedings. Captain Moretti has not publicly addressed the incident since it happened. The investigation aims to review the handling protocols during the loading of 1,200 used cars, which acted as fuel for the fire. It will also assess the initial response actions taken by the ship’s crew and the efforts of the Newark Fire Department, which were unfortunately not successful.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Christian Barger, the lead investigator, emphasized that the investigation is ongoing and extremely thorough, describing it as extensive and involving a lot of people. He stated that every aspect would be meticulously examined to uncover the root causes of the fire and to make recommendations for regulations so that similar incidents in the future do not happen.

The hearing will involve testimony from 13 witnesses, including ship crew members, terminal workers from the docks, Newark Fire Department personnel, and various experts. The objective is to gain insights into the causes of the tragedy.

Cmdr. Barger refrained from providing a specific timeline for the completion of the Coast Guard’s investigation. The fire claimed the lives of Newark firefighters Augusto Acabou, 45, and Wayne Brooks Jr., 49. They were discovered trapped on a lower deck among secured vehicles, having apparently become disoriented in the dense smoke. According to federal court records related to the incident, the fire originated when a Jeep Wrangler on board the ship caught fire, which was near a few other vehicles, so the fire was able to spread quickly.

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